Smartly.io sells majority ownership stake for $223M

Smartly.io

Helsinky-based Smartly.io is one of Finland’s most successful startups, this year their platform will see over $2.7B USD move through it. Started in 2013, some might say Smartly.io isn’t really a startup any more, they’ve become a market leader in social advertising automation.

Okay wait, stop this train. I know what you’re thinking – what the heck is social advertising automation? I’ll try to do this in a sentence, it allows you to seamlessly create both the ads and the campaigns, and then optimizes them across different social networks, automatically.

Smartly.io solution

Back to the story here…today Smartly.io announced they sold a majority stake, worth upwards of $223M USD to a private equity firm Providence Equity Partners. What’s very interesting about this deal is that to-date Smartly.io has only raised $22.8M which means the founders, employees and investors are probably very happy campers right now.

Of course, for Smartly.io – this is only a step along the way, they have big plans for next year which their CEO discussed more with the Wall Street Journal today.

Next year, the company will expand its offerings to include services for YouTube, Pinterest, Twitter and Snapchat, according to Kristo Ovaska, co-founder and chief executive of Smartly.io.

“There is a very clear need for our customers to utilize creative and media optimization capabilities across these platforms,” Mr. Ovaska said. “We’re just getting started there.”

Smartly.io also plans to accelerate its expansion into the U.S., where it has about 100 employees, Mr. Ovaska said. In addition, it plans to work with larger marketers, which currently include Walmart Inc. and Under Armour Inc.

“The changes in consumer behavior, moving from desktop to mobile, and then from mobile to mobile-first formats such as Stories, has been rapid,” Mr. Ovaska said.

(Source – Wall Street Journal)

Huge congrats to Kristo and team. Someone suggested yesterday that I bring my interview series back to life…if I do Kristo will be high on my list. I look forward to following along with the adventure as Smartly.io charges ahead!

{ 6 comments… add one }

  • Snoopy December 18, 2019, 7:36 pm

    Dated domain given the “ly” and .io part. .Com is owned by Dynami and probably hard to acquire without a big spend.

    For a B2B co like this though the domain is unlikely to be very important.

    Reply
    • Brenden December 18, 2019, 11:20 pm

      he is the first to comment because he owns no domains and has no life in my opinion, second they don’t need .com when they are making millions on .IO you really do not understand the domain industry. no one takes you seriously.

      Reply
  • Morgan December 18, 2019, 8:27 pm

    @Snoopy – first, I think it’s awesome that you somehow are able to always be the first to comment. Second – agreed, at this point, with a B2B company like this, they’ve been able to get over $2B in transactions to go through their platform with a .IO, doesn’t seem like they need to change domains at this point, everything looks more than a-okay to me!

    Reply
    • Snoopy December 18, 2019, 9:17 pm

      Just regarding their claim of “$2B in transactions to go through their platform”, note that is very much silicon valley talk (usually said when a company wants to avoid talking about revenue). It is their clients ad spend on facebook, instagram etc.

      They look to charge a fee of 3-5% so they would put total revenue since founding in 2013 at about $80 million in total.

      Reply
      • Matt December 18, 2019, 10:13 pm

        $80m in revenue is still significant even if it is as low as you’re assuming.

        I am actually in awe of successful companies that have the balls to not cry about the .com – they don’t let that stump their growth. They just get out there and kick ass because their products and services are great.

        Sure they may buy the .com (or not), but there is something to be said when:
        domainer cries of startups needing to “upgrade” their domain > cries of startups who don’t want the .com for the asking price

        Supply, demand, need, want… Sometimes domainers just don’t get what it’s like to run a business and lead a startup.

        Domainers should try building something. Even DomainSnowflake is begging for “joint ventures” and “partnerships” – he has some domains and has no idea what to do with them – just wants someone else with ideas to dedicate their $, time and effort into building something that he can take a slice of. Domainers build something more than a minisite or a splashpage.

        Reply
        • Snoopy December 19, 2019, 1:24 am

          They obviously made a pretty bad domain choice so not sure why you would be “in awe” of them for using a not .com. Some companies do well despite all manner of mistakes.

          I would expect given this funding they’ll announce the acquisition of the .com, though it is probably not top priority as they likely have a smallish number of very large clients. They’d probably do just as well as they are now on a hyphen name or .cc.

          Lastly if you think they are “not crying” about this it is highly likely you are wrong, they would have been trying to buy the name for years. It comes down to price and whether they are actually going to get an ROI given the likely very high cost. Nobody chooses to use .io or a .co, they use it when they can’t afford the .com.

          Reply

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